Andover Synagogues Welcome the Jewish New Year
Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on Wednesday, September 28.
Rosh Hashanah literarly means 'Head of the Year', and it marks the beginning of the High Holy days which culminate with the holiest day, Yom Kippur, the 'Day of Atonement.'
Observed on the first day of the Hebrew month Tishrei, this Rosh Hashanah will usher in the year 5772. Since the Hebrew calendar is based on a lunar cycle unlike the Gregorian calendar which is based on a solar cycle, the dates vary year to year and usually fall sometime in September or October.
This year Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on Wednesday Sept. 28, and may be observed for one or two days, and Yom Kippur begins sundown on Friday, Oct. 7 and lasts until Saturday, Oct. 8 at sundown.
There is no public school in Andover on Thursday, Sept. 29 in observance of the holiday.
Rosh Hashanah is both a day of celebration and solemn observance. According to David Levy, editor of Jewish Boston, "The period that begins with Rosh Hashanah and culminates in Yom Kippur is known as the Days of Awe, or the Ten Days of Repentance."
Levy explained, "Tradition sets up Yom Kippur as a deadline for making amends with those we've wronged, so this period can also be a time of reaching out and asking forgiveness."
Families usually begin the new year with a dinner consisting of traditional foods; brisket, chicken, challah, soup, chopped liver and kugel. Dipping apples in honey is a special treat used to usher in a sweet year. Cards with the greeting, "'L'Shana Tovah" (to a good year) are often sent to family and friends to wish them a Happy New Year.
Services at area synagogues are held Thursday and Friday or both, depending on the level of observance. Many reform congregations only observe the holiday for one day.
At some time during Rosh Hashanah, congregations participate in "Tashlich," a custom of casting off sins by throwing bread into a body of water such as a river, lake or pond.
Unique to the High Holiday services is the blowing of the shofar, a hollowed-out ram's horn. In earlier times before internet, telephone, television, and written calendars, the shofar was sounded to alert the beginning of the holidays. This tradition is performed several times during Rosh Hashanah services, but only to sound the end of Yom Kippur.
The Day of Atonement usually begins with a traditional dinner that must be completed before sundown. A special service called Kol Nidre (All Vows), after the opening prayer, marks the beginning of the holiest of the High Holy days.
According to Levy, "This prayer's emphasis on religious vows reminds us that on Yom Kippur, we can use a day of fasting and prayer to make right with God, but wrongs done to other people need to be addressed directly."
Fasting is supposed to help us concentrate on the meaning of the day, but Levy said "Only those in good health and over the age of 13 are expected to fast. Fasting at a time that could put your health at risk is forbidden."
The Jewish Boston website is an excellent source for High Holiday information, recipes, services, as well as a resource for the Jewish Community.
Service schedules are for the most part are listed on synagogue websites.
1. Chabad Lubavitch Jewish Center of Merrimack Valley (Chabad), 310 North Main Street, 978-470-2288.
2. Congregation Beth Israel (Egalitarian Conservative), 501 South Main Street. 978-474-0540.
Limited seats available for Non Members for a fee. Check website for schedule and information.
3. Havurat Shalom (Reconstructionist), P.O. Box 568, Andover.
4. Temple Emanuel (Reform), 7 Haggetts Pond Road, 978-470-1356.
Most services require tickets which are reserved for members.
There are special community services which are open to the public (See PDF).
Call or check out website for more information.
Congregation Ansha Sholum (Unaffiliated), 411 Hampshire Street. For more information email email@example.com
No tickets required for services. Schedule is listed under PDF's.